Beware App-athy!

Beware App-athy!

One of the great things about being involved in the Event Camp movement is getting the latest trends straight from the horse’s mouth on a regular basis. To be more accurate, from the mouth’s of those most in the know about event technology. Liz King was one of the stellar speaker line-up of speakers at #ECME13 last month — for anyone who didn’t catch it live, check it out here (

Liz has blogged about the concept of App-athy and says it’s something she’s been seeing more and more. Her view is that people have a million apps already on their phones and if they’re going to take the time to add to their tally, it has to serve a unique purpose. What we’re hearing anecdotally supports this concept — there is an awful lot of clutter in the event tech world and some very basic apps masquerading as state-of-the art.

As an advertising person we know says, “never insult your customers with a crap experience.” In the event app world, a crap experience is progressively coming to mean an app that is a digital event guide only or the tendency to serve up a new app for every event. One of Liz’s key messages at ECME was that, where possible, event organisers should think about how to make their event apps multi-use so people can get an app once and use it at many events they attend.

People are now looking much more discerningly at which apps they will use.  When we launched SmartShow nearly three years ago our aspiration was to build one event app to rule them all. Right from the beginning we knew that the need would ultimately be for a multi-use commodity product and we build the ShowGizmo platform accordingly. Our vision was that people will want to use one event app to access information across all the events they attend, irrespective of where they are and who ‘owns’ the event. This is particularly true as social communities and crow-sourcing philosophies are changing how we think and act.

For any one who goes to a range of different events each year, how convenient would it be to be able to access the event information for each of them via one over-arching app? One gateway to all their events and just one tap to select which one they wish to engage with … any time, anywhere, before, during and after any of the events. That’s exactly what we built when we created ShowGizmo. Rather than the waste and cost of creating a bespoke app for every event, we turned the concept round and said that users should select an app they like and be able to use it at all the events they attend. Other than giving their attendees a great experience, there is a real benefit in this approach to event producers. “This event is mobilised by ShowGizmo” would be something all attendees would quickly understand and many would already have the app on their phones. No need for endless “we’ve got an app, here’s how you get it and why you should care” messaging.  Of course, we recognise the value of event information to our clients, so we have built in security and password protection to prevent unauthorised access where that is a key priority.

Validating this approach is the growing number of people who’ve used ShowGizmo at more than one event. At the moment it’s still a relatively modest number at about 6%, but as we mobilise more events and repeat them year-on-year — we’re on our third annual deployment for some clients — the number is growing exponentially. Not only do attendees like it because they know what to expect, they get interim updates form the app stores so they always have the most recent feature set. Organisers and producers who use ShowGizmo for more than one event can aggregate data set to compare results and attendee’s behaviours and preferences.

People don’t want a million versions of Facebook — they want Facebook.  We believe that the days of the bespoke app are numbered for anything other than the large consumer events where brand imperatives tend to top functionality. Even there, the benefits to visitors of using a known and trusted app, far outweigh the costs of building from scratch.  But where the brand is paramount, we are happy to provide an own label branded version of the ShowGizmo multi-event platform. After all, we’re in the business of creating app-sorption not app-athy!


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